Ed: Today we have a guest fan post from long-time Jazz fan Michael England. Michael thought it would be interesting to revisit Paul Millsap’s career as a Jazzman and examine whether or not he will be worth the money he will surely demand in free agency this summer. You can follow Michael on Twitter at @M_England83.
Watching the Bulls play the Jazz made me remember hearing “If Paul Millsap played as many minutes as Carlos Boozer, then Millsap would be as good or better.” Well here we are, nearly three seasons since Boozer has left and Millsap has been the main power forward for this Jazz. Millsap has received the minutes we all wanted him to get and he has become better at nearly every facet of his game. The question is not, is he better than Boozer, but is he worth another long term, expensive contract?
When Millsap came out of college, we knew he was a hustler that would go after every rebound. Many speculated he would not do much offensively and defense would be a liability because he would go against taller power forwards. Paul’s first year proved to be better than expected and he soon became a fan favorite due to his hustle and desire to win. He also won over many hearts due to the fact that he was playing behind a power forward that was making a lot more money and yet showed very little hustle and was injured often. Jazz fans hoped that they might have found a reincarnated Karl Malone with the 47th pick in the draft.
Paul Millsap has certainly lived up to his 47th overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft. Portland tried to pull a fast one and attempted to sign Paul to a heavily front-loaded contract that the Jazz matched. This move showed Paul that the Jazz were committed to making him their future power forward and did not resign Boozer the following year. Paul has single-handedly won games for the Jazz (a la Miami Miracle) and he is still the play-hurt, emotional hustler that we love.
The time has come again for the Jazz to decide whether they want to sign Millsap again long-term, most definitely for more money this time, or let him walk to develop it’s young guys. Remember that Millsap turned down a three year, $25 million extension this last offseason. Nobody is saying that Millsap is overpaid or that it was a mistake the Jazz matched the offer, but is Paul worth the next tier of money, potentially tying the franchise’s hand for the future?
Let’s play what if. What if Millsap gets offered 4 years at $48 mil? I don’t think a deal like this is out of question and one that could be very likely. This deal would make him higher paid than Omer Asik, David West, Ryan Anderson, and the future Hall of Famer, Tim Duncan. It would put him right in line with Al Horford and David Lee which are both All Stars this year. Knowing this isn’t the only reason the Jazz could say no to this amount of money, here’s some other strengths that may make him worth it .
Paul is amazing at steals and getting his hands on the ball often in passing lanes. He has led the Jazz in steals the last three seasons, although only a moderate rim protector, not nearly as dangerous there as his backup in Derrick Favors.
Millsap’s greatest ability coming out of college was his knack for rebounds, but his per-game averages have suffered as his game has migrated to the mid-range more. He is rebounding nearly 2.5 rebounds less than Lee or Boozer for the year and that number is 1.5 rebounds less than last year. Additionally, he often loses the rebound battle when he goes against always-bigger opponents — sometimes height does matter.
There have been times this year when Paul’s game has been up and down, and he’s questioned his role. In turning down an extension makes one wonder if Paul wants to be here anymore.
Lastly is the subject everybody has been talking about all year: What does re-signing Millsap do to the development of Favors? Paul was not able to really become the man until the Jazz parted ways with Boozer and that might be the case with Favors behind Millsap. It wouldn’t surprise to find that both players have questioned their roles with minutes and in closing games with rotations being changed around in an attempt to find the right matchups. Let’s face it, with Favors being (listed) two inches taller and a better defender and at a fraction of the cost on a rookie contract, the Jazz should be developing Favors right?
Why might the Jazz match a huge contract offer this summer if Millsap wants to test the free agency waters? Paul is a true Jazz man. The franchise took a chance on him and gave him minutes that most 47th picks dream of (heck, I’m sure Enes Kanter would kill for those kinds of minutes). They let Boozer go allowing more minutes for Paul and matched the offer sheet from Portland. Paul knows that the Jazz have trusted him and he appreciates it and that is why he gives it his all almost every night. He has tried to expand his role to play a little of the three spot, not his natural position, and he has also expanded his game to hit an occasional three-pointer. Few have questioned his leadership on the court, the hustle and his remarkable ability to play hurt. He is a team player and because of that, Jazz fans love the guy and have a soft spot in their heart for him.
But it may be time to face the facts. Millsap might have peaked last year. He plays very physical so we have to wonder how long his body will last each season, and in a career. Paul might never bring Utah a championship, but maybe the biggest reason not to keep Millsap is because he is taking valuable time and learning experiences from Derrick Favors. Almost every fan will tell you he is a stud and has done extremely well for the Jazz organization, something fans will always appreciate it.
But in this author’s opinion Paul Millsap is not worth that type of money and if he gets it offered, I wish him the best. I wonder if you share my same opinion or if you think that there would be an acceptable price to keep Millsap. What do you think is a fair price to keep Millsap a Jazzman?